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D-Day: a timeline of how events unfolded 70 years ago
4am: General Dwight Eisenhower gives the go-ahead for the Allied invasion. All personnel are handed a statement in which he says: “You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.”
In case the invasion fails, he writes this statement: "Our landings in the Cherbourg-Harve area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. If any blame or fault attaches to this attempt, it is mine alone."
10pm: Operation Neptune, a seaborne force of five assault groups consisting of 130,000 men, leaves the English coast.
Royal Air Force Tarrant Rushton on D-Day. Picture the Andrew Wright Collection
10.56pm: Six gliders take off from Tarrant Rushton. Dorset, bound for Pegasus Bridge.
12.05am: Coastal batteries between Le Harve and Cherbourg are bombed 12.15am: Pathfinders are dropped to mark out US drop zones on the right bank of the Orne.
12.20am: British airborne troops begin attacking Pegasus and other bridges over the River Orne 12.35am: British parachutists capture Pegasus Bridge in Benouville.
12.50am: 400 RAF aircraft drop 2,000 paratroopers from Pegasus Division.
1.30am: First paratroopers of US 101st Airborne dropped behind Utah Beach.
2.30am: Combined bombardment and assault fleets arrive and anchor 2.30am: Ranville is liberated.
3am: Aerial bombardment of German defence and artillery sites begins.
US troops start embarking in landing crafts for Omaha and Utah beaches 5am Britain’s 9th Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, helps destroy weapons at the Merville Battery, protecting troops who will land at Sword Beach
5.30am: Allied warships begin bombarding the Normandy coastline
5.50am: Warships begin bombardment of German defences
5.58am: Sunrise 6am Bombers pound the German shore defences. More than 5,300 tonnes of bombs are dropped
6.30am: American troops begin landing on Omaha Beach to face a devastating onslaught Well dug in, the Germans poured down murderous fire on the landing Americans, and progress was so hindered that US First Army Commander General Omar Bradley considered pulling off the beach and landing troops elsewhere.
At one point, Colonel George A Taylor, who led his troops against a German machinegun emplacement, said: “Two kinds of people are staying on this beach - the dead and those who are about to die."
7.10am: US Rangers land at La Pointe du Hoc.
7.25am: British land at Gold and Sword beaches 7.30am: British and Canadian forces land on Gold, Juno and Sword sectors.
Second man off the first Canadian landing craft in Juno is 21-year-old Corporal Bob Roberts.
7.50am: French commandos land on Sword beach.
8am: the first men of the 50th Canadian Infantry Division landed on Juno between Gray-sur-Mer and Bernieres-sur-Mer.
8.05am: Heavy seas hamper the landings but the Canadians are able to forge a 1012km long bridgehead and liaise with the British 50th Division
8.15am: A total of 21,400 men were landed on the beach on DDay as well as 3,200 vehicles and 1,100 tons of supplies. Casualties included 304 dead, 574 wounded and 47 taken prisoner
9am: General Eisenhower authorises release of communiqué announcing the invasion has begun. General Bradley calls for reinforcements
12noon: Winston Churchill speaks to the House of Commons about the landings
1.30pm: Troops on Omaha Beach begin securing the area
2.30pm: The 21st Panzer Division unleash a counter-attack towards the coast
4pm: The British arrive at Arromanches
6pm: Some of the 3rd Canadian division , North Nova Scotia Highlanders reach 5km inland
6pm: 1st Hussar tanks cross the Caen-Bayeux railway, 15km inland Canadian Scottish link up with the 50th Division at Cruelly
7pm: Command post set up on Omaha Beach 8pm British enter Bayeux, while the US 151st take control of the Caen-Bayeux road.
General de Gaulle broadcasts from London: “La bataille suprême est engagée -The supreme battle has begun.”
9pm: The British have taken control of Arromanches.
11.30pm-3.00am: The Germans strike back against the US Rangers on La Pointe du Hoc.
1am: Stanley Hartill of RAF Servicing Commando, watches as a torpedo from a German E-boat is fired towards his ship. He will land on Juno early on June 7 and start work setting up an airstrip for Allied planes.
Midnight: All the beaches are secure
D-Day: a summary
By the end of D-DAY the Allied armies had disembarked more than 135,000 mean and had bridgeheads of varying depths along the Normandy coastline.
But on Omaha the situation was perilious as the Germans fought for every inch of territory.
As sunset arrived a total of 10,000 men were killed, injured or missing.
Fierce fighting continued in the area until August.
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